When you’re living with a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease you must be able to survive one emotional upheaval after another. What is most important during this difficult time is that you not only survive the physical demands placed on you as the primary caregiver, but that you learn to cope effectively with the emotional turmoil and preserve the quality of your own life in the process. Caregivers have been known to put their own lives on hold and become entirely devoted to caregiving—making this difficult role even harder, and often compromising their own health. This needn’t happen.
The caregivers you will meet in this book, with whom you have much in common, have learned how to deal with the frustration, anger, and grief that come naturally to any person in this role. Through their poignant stories and personal experiences you will find the strength that you need to care for your loved one while remaining emotionally committed as the mutuality of your partnership fades. Loving and nurturing while letting go is the paradox of Alzheimer’s caregiving.
You can learn from the caregivers in this book what you need to do to create a satisfying life that meshes with your role as caregiver. You will ultimately be able to make the right decisions and minimize the chaos that can overwhelm you. Within are the tools you need to manage the stressors of your changing and challenging world.
Sandy Braff, M.F.T. is a licensed individual, marriage, and family therapist in private practice in San Diego. Since 1989, she has facilitated a weekly Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s Support Group for the San Diego Alzheimer’s Association.
Mary Rose Olenik participated in an N.I.H. grant studying the effects of stress on the immune system of Alzheimer’s caregivers while a Staff Research Associate in the Department of Psychiatry at University of California, San Diego. She lives in New Hampshire.